El Camino Real Bell at Torrey Pines.

After finishing my walk along North Torrey Pines Road last weekend, I waited for a bus at a stop near the north end of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the south end of Torrey Pines State Reserve. For a while I watched groups of bicyclists fly past. Then I noticed that an El Camino Real Bell rose from the nearby sidewalk!

I’ve taken photographs of various historic El Camino Real Bells all around San Diego over the years. You can revisit a few of my sightings by clicking here.

As I explained in that blog post: “Many of these guidepost bells were placed in 1906 by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs. They marked the primitive roads that connected the old Spanish missions in California. El Camino Real, which means the Royal Road or King’s Highway in Spanish, led to 21 missions in Alta California, plus a variety of sub-missions, presidios and pueblos. The bells stand on tall posts in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. In subsequent years, bells have been removed or added to the California landscape.”

This bell appears similar to others I’ve come upon. An old plaque at the base of this one reads:

Donated by
California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Bostonia Woman’s Club

And, like other examples I’ve seen, this appears on the bell itself:

Oct 25 1697

July 4 1823

According to the California State Parks website: “On October 25, 1697, Father Salvatierra founded the first permanent mission in the Californias on a sheltered plain opposite Isla Carmen. It was named Nuestra Señora de Loreto Concho…” (That original mission was built in what today is Baja California, Mexico.)

The 21st mission in Alta California (the present state of California) was established in San Francisco on July 4, 1823. It was the final and northernmost mission. It was named Mission San Francisco de Solano.

The name and founding date of both the first and last mission explains what is written on every El Camino Real Bell.

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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